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Christian activist's mother sets herself ablaze

Self-immolation was in protest against daughter's imprisonment

Dang Thi Kim Lieng (third from left) was worried about her daughter's forthcoming trial Dang Thi Kim Lieng (third from left) was worried about her daughter's forthcoming trial
  • Asia Desk, Bangkok
  • Vietnam
  • July 31, 2012
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The mother of a prominent Christian blogger has died after setting herself on fire yesterday in a protest against her daughter’s detention for allegedly spreading anti-government propaganda, activists said.

Dang Thi Kim Lieng set herself alight near a local government office building in the southern city of Bac Lieu yesterday morning.

“Her wounds were very serious and she died on the way to the hospital [in Ho Chi Minh City]," said Redemptorist Father Dinh Huu Thoai, a priest close to the family.

Her daughter, Marie Ta Phong Tan, is being held at a jail in the city.

The 43-year-old Catholic former policewoman was one of three bloggers arrested last year. All are due to go on trial next week.

Lieng had not seen her daughter since her arrest last September. Local Church sources said she had been very worried about her daughter’s trial.

She too had been questioned and followed everywhere she went and her home was being watched by authorities 24 hours a day, the sources said.

Lieng’s death, the first reported self-immolation in Vietnam since the 1970s, came a day after the Vietnamese Redemptorist News network called for the release of 17 Christians, including Tan, some of whom have been held without trial since last July.

In a statement on Sunday, the network said most of the detained had contributed to its blog www.chuacuuthe.com. It claimed they were not arrested in accordance with due process under Vietnamese law or according to international conventions signed by Vietnam.

“Their ongoing detention in silence indicates a serious violation against the spirit of the call to construct a state of jurisdiction,” the statement said. It denied that the bloggers were spreading anti-government propaganda, saying they were “all righteous people.

“They were simply concerned for the fate of our country, attended courses on communications and blogged to bring justice and truth to people. They served the public through social and charitable work,” the VRN statement concluded. It was signed by Father Anthony Le Ngoc Thanh, head of the network, and Father Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai, head of the Vietnam Provincial Office.

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